[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you have no credit history, or if your credit just stinks, you might think it’s impossible to get a credit card. And while it’s true that your chances of qualifying for a credit card with the best interest rates are slim, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an honest-to-goodness credit card that can help you start improving your credit scores. How, you ask? With a secured credit card. Here’s how it works.
What’s a Secured Credit Card?
Secured credit cards are a lot like other credit cards. You have a pre-set credit limit and you can use your secured card to purchase items just as you would with a standard credit card. You’ll also make monthly payments like you would with a credit card. The only real difference is that your credit limit is based upon a security deposit that you make in order to secure the card.
And unlike a debit card or a prepaid card, a secured credit card is generally reported to the three major credit bureaus. That means that making your payments on time and keeping your credit balances low can help you turn your credit score frown upside-down, and pretty quickly.
Perhaps the best thing about establishing or building your credit with a secured card is that you can end up qualifying for unsecured cards with better interest rates and even rewards once you’ve had the account for a while and shown you can manage it responsibly.
Getting a Secured Credit Card
Do keep in mind, though, that even though the bar for approval is lower, it’s still possible to be turned down for a secured card, particularly if you have a bankruptcy on your credit reports that has not been discharged, or you have a history of missed payments, collections or other red flags. That’s why it’s important to check your credit reports and your credit scores (you can get two free credit scores on Credit.com) before applying. If you see any errors on your credit reports, you’ll want to clear those up before trying to get one of these cards.
Once you’ve obtained a secured credit card, you can build good credit by making all of your payments on time and keeping the amount of debt you’re carrying on the card as low as possible.
The Best Secured Credit Cards
Here are three of our favorite secured credit cards on the market today.
Why We Picked it: This card offers qualified cardholders access to a higher line of credit with no additional deposit after the first five monthly payments have been made on time.
APR: 26.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Picked it: This card is accessible to a wide range of credit ranges and no minimum credit score is needed. It offers a low fixed interest rate of 17.99% (Fixed). With a minimum security deposit of $250, you can start now.
APR: 17.99% (Fixed)
Annual Fee: $39
Why We Picked it: This secured card lets you choose a fully refundable security deposit of $200 up to $3,000. Getting one doesn’t require a credit check. The APR is very reasonable. And OpenSky reports monthly to all three credit bureaus to help you build your credit.
APR: 19.39% Variable
Annual Fee: $35
At publishing time, the credit cards shown here offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.